1. I will not confuse entertainment with advice. I will acknowledge that the financial media is in the entertainment business and their message can compromise my long-term focus and discipline, leading me to make poor investment decisions.
2. I will stop searching for tomorrow’s star money manager, as there are no gurus. Capitalism will be my guru because with capitalism there is a positive expected return on capital, and it is there for the taking. And for me to succeed, someone else doesn’t have to fail.
3. I will not invest based on a forecast—whether it is mine or anyone else’s. I will recognize that the urge to form an opinion will never go away, but I won’t act on it because no one can repeatedly predict the future. It is, by definition, uncertain.
4. I will keep a long-term perspective and appropriately consider my investment horizon (i.e., how long my portfolio is to be invested) when determining my performance horizon (i.e., the time frame I use to evaluate results).
5. I will continue to invest new capital and work my plan because it is time in the market—and not timing the market—that matters.
6. I will adhere to my plan and continue to rebalance (i.e., systematically buying more of what hasn’t done well recently) rather than “unbalance” (i.e., buying more of what’s hot).
7. I will not focus my portfolio in a few securities, or even a few asset classes, as diversification remains the closest thing to a free lunch.
8. I will ensure my portfolio is appropriate for my goals and objectives while only taking risks worth taking.
9. I will manage my emotions by learning about and acknowledging the biases and cognitive errors that influence my behavior.
10. I will keep my cost of investing reasonable.
Most of us find it hard to follow a sensible diet or a sensible investment strategy 100% of the time. If you must stray when managing your wealth or well-being, moderation is the key. Chocolate cake is OK, as long as it’s not for dinner every night. Speculating on a stock or two is all right as well, as long as you don’t do it with your investment capital.
Finally, just as successful athletes rely on coaches and trainers to help them achieve their goals, most investors can probably benefit from having a “financial coach” to remind them about their New Year’s resolutions and keep them on track toward a more prosperous future.
From: Northern Exposure – Be It Resolved by Brad Steiman, Vice President DFA, January 2011